South Africa vs Pakistan: Vernon Philander ruled out of the first Test

Ngidi has already been ruled out of the series.

Vernon Philander
Vernon Philander of the Proteas. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Shubham Ghosh

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South Africa suffered a blow ahead of their three-Test series against Pakistan at home with veteran pacer Vernon Philander getting ruled out of the first Test. The series is due to start at Centurion on Boxing Day but the hosts will be without the premier pacer in the game.

The 33-year-old bowler last played international cricket in July in a Test against Sri Lanka and returned to the ground in the early rounds of the domestic four-day cricket after recovering from an ankle injury. He was in the middle of doing the duty for Durban Heat in the inaugural Mzansi Super League T20 tournament where he suffered a hairline fracture on the right thumb.

Young pacer Lungi Ngidi, who made an impressive debut against India at home last year, has already been ruled out till February owing to a knee injury and now with Philander also getting out, the Proteas will be left with only three frontline pacers in veteran Dale Steyn, Kagiso Rabada and inexperienced Duanne Olivier.

Philander has played 55 Tests and taken 205 wickets at an average of 21.54. He also has a decent batting average of 25-plus. He was the man of the series in the home series against India with 15 wickets and could be handy against Pakistan as well.

Injuries to fast bowlers leave coach Otis Gibson frustrated

The home team’s ordeal has left even its Caribbean coach Otis Gibson worried as he was quoted as saying by Cricingif: “I really don’t even want to think about what would happen should there be another injury.”

“If you look at where we are, Steyn, Rabada and Olivier become very important to us. We just want to manage them as best we can. You’ve got Steyn, Rabada, Philander, Ngidi and Olivier, who’s been in-and-out, but always in our thinking. That’s the making of a good attack in any form of the game. My job now is to keep them fit and fresh for them to be at their peak at international level,” he added.

Dale Steyn returned to international cricket after a long stint with fitness issues but bowled with vigour. The 35-year-old is currently tied with Shaun Pollock as South Africa’s highest wicket-taker in Tests (421 scalps) and the first wicket he picks in the upcoming Pakistan series will elevate him to the top rank.

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